Music

10 Artists to See at Pitchfork’s Midwinter Festival

Let Kamasi Washington, Deerhunter, Laurie Anderson, and many others rock you this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Joey Purp/Facebook

Festival season never really ends in Chicago. Despite the touring act drought during our harsh winters, it seems there are more festivals cropping up each year to defy the weather and hibernation fatigue. Ian’s Party, Psych Fest, Tomorrow Never Knows and Music Frozen Dancing give Chicagoans a reason to boogie in the frigid first weeks of the year.

Pitchfork is entering the winter festival arena with the debut of Midwinter. They’re bringing over 30 artists to perform at the Art Institute of Chicago over the weekend of February 15-17. Attendees must purchase a base ticket for each day of the festival allowing them to experience original, pre-recorded soundscapes from like likes of Taski Wada & Julia Holter, Helado Negro and more. Individual performances are added on to the base ticket price at an additional cost.

Boasting a stellar lineup and world-renowned venue, Midwinter promises to be an extraordinary celebration of art and music. Here are 10 artists to see:

Photo courtesy of Slowdive/Facebook

William Basinski The Disintegration Loops With the Chicago Philharmonic
In 2001, William Basinski digitized a series of easy listening music tape loops. The tape began disintegrating in the process and Basinski recorded the sound of its decay. See this poignant ambient expression accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic.
Details: February 15, 6:20 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $30

Slowdive
After breaking out in the early ‘90s, British shoegaze stars Slowdive went silent for nearly two decades. Their influence grew and came to be heard in much of today’s indie rock cannon, and the quartet reunited in 2014. Soak in Slowdive’s classic dreamy numbers, as well as fresh songs from their 2017 LP Slowdive.
Details: February 15, 9:30 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $25

Le1f
Queer rapper Khalif Diouf brings his energetic set to one of the Art Institute’s quietest spaces. The New York artist maneuvers from club bangers to trap beats, pushing genres to create a fresh sound.
Details: February 15, 10:30 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $15

Kamasi Washington/Courtesy of Sacks and Co Publicity

Kamasi Washington
Experience the power of jazz with tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington and his talented band The Next Step. Since the 2015 release of his debut album The Epic, Kamasi and company have toured the world and back again, spreading their soulful take on the genre. When he’s not collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi is releasing short films at Sundance, so catch him live before his next move.
Details: February 15, 9 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $25

Grouper
The hallowed walls of the Art Institute will be the perfect environment to experience Liz Harris’ ethereal ambient music. Expect to fall under the spell of Grouper’s moody dream pop. The Oregon musician may even feature work from her stark new side project Nivhek.
Details: February 16, 9 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $20

Photo courtesy of Tortoise/Facebook

Panda Bear
Catch Noah Lennox as he enters a new chapter with his recently released fifth solo album, Buoys. A decade after releasing Merriweather Post Pavilion with Animal Collective, that album has proved itself as an indie classic. Panda Bear’s latest act blends an R&B sensibility with layered electronics, a heavy dose of psych, water drop sounds and even Auto-Tune.
Details: February 15, 10:30 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $25

Deerhunter
Deerhunter’s recently released eighth album, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, is a study in dystopian sci-fi and nostalgia. With the production help of Cate Le Bon, Deerhunter’s signature guitar chops and exquisite string arrangements, the heavy-handed themes get an upbeat treatment. Since founding in 2001, the band has never stopped evolving or asking the big questions.
Details: February 15, 6:20 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $30

Tortoise
Post-rock icons Tortoise will celebrate the 21st anniversary of their beloved album TNT at Midwinter playing the album in its entirety. Expect the instrumental rock quintet to deliver an intimate and invigorating show, trading instruments and showing off their genre-bending, multi-instrument virtuosity. The Chicago band’s members are now spread throughout the country, so don’t miss this chance to see TNT in its hometown.
Details: February 15, 6:20 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $30

Photo courtesy of Laurie Anderson/Facebook

Laurie Anderson
Groundbreaking avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson will be in her element at the Art Institute. The electronic music innovator’s four-decade career also includes work as a composer, director, sculptor and performance artist. Expect to see some experimental instruments of Anderson’s own invention in action during the performance.
Details: February 15, 6:30 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $25

Joey Purp
Joey Purp has previously played Pitchfork’s summer music festival, but we wonder if the solemn indoor setting of the Art Institute can contain his vivacious energy. One of the brightest rising stars in Chicago’s hip-hop scene, Purp released his latest album, Quarterthing, in 2018. With quick wit and effortless flow, Purp narrates life in Chicago as he sees it.
Details: February 15, 10:30 p.m.; Add-on ticket: $15